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Melissus and Aristarchus

Before Copernicus

Бюст Antisthnes, Αντισθένης

Pythagoras (see below) was only the first in a series of great thinkers from Samos. Melissus, who led the fleet to victory against Athens in 441 BC wrote of the essential unity of creation, which was spatially and temporally infinite, and only appeared to move.

Aristarchus (310–230 BC), a mathematician, was also the best astronomer of his time. Although other Greek astronomers were convinced that the Earth was the centre of the universe, and that the planets moved about it in perfect circles, Aristarchus, in an attempt to account for the retrograde motion of Mars and the fluctuations in the planets’ brightness, boldly declared that the Earth was a mere planet among planets, and that all planets circled the sun.

This was too much for his fellow astronomers to take on board, as it would be for many of their descendants, when Copernicus told them the same thing.

Sidelights and Myths

Text © Dana Facaros

Image by Eliseevmn